Early signing period for Division I football approved

The Collegiate Commissioners Association approved an early signing period for Division I football on Monday, officially allowing recruits in the 2018 class to sign their national letters of intent as early as Dec. 20.

The traditional signing period that begins in February is still available, but now recruits can choose to sign during a 72-hour window from Dec. 20-22. The new period coincides with the first three days of the junior college transfer signing period. The NCAA Division I Council already approved the change in April.

UCLA has nine verbal commits so far for the 2018 class who could consider using the early signing period to lock down their spots in Westwood. The group is led by four-star quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson from Las Vegas’ Bishop Gorman and includes three safeties: four-star prospects Stephan Blaylock (St. John Bosco) and Cam’ron Jones (Mansfield High, Texas) and three-star recruit Jhevon Hill (Cajon).

Other UCLA verbal commits:

  • ATH Isaiah Johnson
  • DL Aaron Maldonado
  • OT Blake McDonald
  • WR Kyle Phillips
  • RB AJ Carter
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Cameron Judge, Eli Ankou selected in CFL Draft

UCLA linebacker Cameron Judge (right) was the second overall pick in the CFL Draft on Sunday. (The Associated Press)

Cameron Judge and Eli Ankou are still holding on to their NFL dreams, but the pair of former UCLA Bruins received possible backup plans Sunday night after hearing their names called in the CFL Draft.

Judge, who was invited to a rookie mini camp with the Houston Texans after going undrafted in the NFL Draft, was taken second overall in the CFL Draft by the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Judge was born in Montreal, but went to high school at Oaks Christian before coming to UCLA, where he played 47 games as a linebacker and special teams stalwart.

“If things don’t work out [in Houston], it’s nice knowing I have somewhere to go,” Judge told CBC News after the draft. “If I don’t make an [NFL] team I’m definitely coming up there to play and prepared to give it everything I got, be fully committed to this team.”

Ankou will also be at Houston’s rookie mini camp after he signed as an undrafted free agent with the team. The Ottawa native was taken with the 26th pick in the third round Sunday by the Ottawa Redblacks, the defending Grey Cup champions.

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St. John Bosco DB Stephan Blaylock commits to UCLA

UCLA defensive backs coach Demetrice Martin is stocking up on safeties for the 2018 recruiting class.

St. John Bosco’s Stephan Blaylock announced his commitment to UCLA on Friday, giving UCLA three verbal commitments from safeties for this recruiting cycle.

The 6-foot, 180-pound Blaylock is the No. 4 safety in California, according to Scout.com. He’s ranked as a four-star recruit by Scout, Rivals and ESPN.

Blaylock picked UCLA over Oregon, Nebraska, Washington State and Colorado. He will play in the Polynesian Bowl next year.

After signing four cornerbacks in the 2017 class, Martin now has pledges from two four-star safeties in Blaylock and Cam’ron Jones and a three-star in Jhevon Hill. Blaylock is UCLA’s ninth verbal commit for the 2018 class, which is led by top quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson.

Blaylock’s junior season highlights:

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How UCLA football balances NFL draft picks and wins

Takkarist McKinley was one of five UCLA players selected in the 2017 NFL Draft. (Photo by Getty Images)

Last weekend was another successful NFL Draft for UCLA as five Bruins heard their names called during the three-day event.

Since Jim Mora took over prior to the 2012 season, UCLA is one of seven Pac-12 schools to have at least one player drafted every year. The Bruins have sent 25 players to the NFL through the draft in that time, the most for any school in the conference.

What was that NFL talent able to accomplish at UCLA?

UCLA’s 41 wins during the Mora era are the most for any UCLA head coach during a five-year span, but still ranks only fifth in the Pac-12 since 2012. Here’s a look at how each Pac-12 team has done in the draft and on the field in the past five seasons.

The total wins since 2012 are plotted on the horizontal axis while the total draft picks, starting with the 2013 NFL Draft, are plotted on the vertical axis. Continue reading “How UCLA football balances NFL draft picks and wins” »

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UCLA spring football standouts: Defense

Jaelan Phillips (top), Adarius Pickett (bottom right) and Rick Wade (bottom left) were among the defensive standouts for UCLA during spring practice. (Photos by Keith Birmingam/SCNG/Pasadena Star-News)

It’s next man up for the UCLA defense.

The Bruins aren’t fretting the loss of four NFL Draft picks and two more starters who signed as free agents.

There were many candidates for spring practice defensive standouts, but here are three, along with yesterday’s three standouts on the offensive side:

DB ADARIUS PICKETT

UCLA safety Adarius Pickett celebrates his interception with John Johnson, right, in the third quarter Saturday against Texas A&M. (Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Before stepping in front of the cameras after UCLA’s spring game last Saturday, Pickett carefully adjusted the gray headband his mother made him. Across the piece of fabric, Pickett’s mother had written in silver puffy paint “Pick Six.” The safety certainly lived up to that nickname this spring.

Pickett grabbed at least six interceptions during team periods last month, which by my unofficial tally led the team. He credited his standout spring to his winter workout regimen with strength coach Sal Alosi as well as extra film study. Continue reading “UCLA spring football standouts: Defense” »

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